Bill Arnott’s Beat: The Bookshelf Café News Interview

I was recently asked to take part in a visit and interview for The Bookshelf Café News, a multimedia publication for writers and bibliophiles. The conversation’s captured in Q&A format. For readers who want to know more about those who write the words we enjoy, it’s an engaging peek behind the authorly curtain. Not to mention a chance to discover enticing new authors and titles. Here’s what we discussed when I took the hot seat …

(Bookshelf Café News). Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?

(Bill). In writing Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, my first bestseller, I looked to my nonfiction literary role models as inspiration (and motivation), specifically authors Anna Badkhen, Malachy Tallack, and Robert Macfarlane. When I wrote my latest bestseller, A Season on Vancouver Island, I was truly inspired not only by the land but by the Indigenous Nations that have made this part of the planet home for over five millennia.

(BCN). What books have you read more than once in your life?

(Bill). I read Land’s Edge by Tim Winton every year and can re-read any Anna Badkhen title. Robert Macfarlane is one of my favourites and I recently read The Old Ways yet again. And like a lot of us I’ve devoured The Hobbit (so to speak) many, many times!

(BCN). As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

(Bill). For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Viking, and still do in fact! And I figured if that didn’t pan out, I could always be an astronaut. I admit I never looked into the prerequisites.

(BCN). Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

(Bill). I’ve been extremely privileged to hear from a lot of readers around the globe, invariably with kind and lovely things to say. It’s become a proper community as we “get to know one another” through experiences we share in my books. Our #GoneVikingCommunity is a brilliant example of this.

Click to.purchase Bill’s latest bestseller!

(BCN). Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

(Bill). When I wrote A Season on Vancouver Island, I actually had ocean waves (white noise) in my earbuds for much of that creative process. A dreamy, all-encompassing soundtrack.

(BCN). Do you prefer eBooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?

(Bill). Given the choice, I like printed books, the look and feel of paper, preferably a trade paperback you can stuff in a pack. But I did enjoy a lot of eBooks when the world was locked down and self-isolating, and I appreciate the appeal of that format.

(BCN). How do you use social media as an author?

(Bill). One of the things I like about social media is the ability to connect with readers, contributing to a shared community. I’ve been delighted to see readers posting photos of themselves with copies of my books, often somewhere fun. My Gone Viking travelogues have ended up being used by a lot of people as pseudo-guidebooks, although the books aren’t travel guides. But as a fellow lover of good travel literature, I do the very same thing, enjoying great nonfiction set in the area where I’m travelling. I’m definitely seeing readers using A Season on Vancouver Island in this manner, not only as a gift or souvenir but as a travel companion book as well.

(BCN). How long did it take you to write this book?

(Bill). I spent a year creating A Season on Vancouver Island, including the visual art in the book which are photos I’ve taken during the excursion and then digitally painted, to create an extrasensory engagement through mixed media. When I wrote Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, that was eight years of travel, research and writing.

(BCN). If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be?

(Bill). I’ve actually been privileged to become friends with a couple of my literary heroine/heroes, and through those friendships I’ve benefitted immeasurably as an author. Now they’re not only friends but mentors, one being a renowned TV historian in the UK and another being a famous Canadian poet. But if I could add to this special list, I’d love to be part of an expedition with Michael Palin, as we’re both Fellows in London’s Royal Geographical Society, but haven’t yet met.

(BCN). If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

(Bill). With the popularity of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga and Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries, my publisher asked for one more, to create a Gone Viking trilogy. Which I’ve now done. An additional two years of travel, research and writing to complete Gone Viking III: The Holy Grail which will be published by Rocky Mountain Books, Fall 2023. It’s a true odyssey, following new treks I take across Europe, Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland – adventure, history, humour, a mystery to unravel and treasure to be found – I’m extremely proud of the result and the feedback from advance readers has been overwhelming (and humbling).

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If you’re a writer and this kind of interview appeals, I recommend reaching out to the welcoming team at The Bookshelf Café News. It’s a wonderful opportunity to look back at creative influences and share this lovely art form we all enjoy. – Bill.

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Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of A Season on Vancouver Island, theGone Viking travelogues, andA Perfect Day for a Walk: The History, Cultures, and Communities of Vancouver, on Foot(Arsenal Pulp Press, Fall 2024). Recipient of a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions, Bill’s a frequent presenter and contributor to magazines, universities, podcasts, TV and radio. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land. 

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